This post is in response to Brian Lageose’s Three Word Challenge. The idea is to write a story based on three words that Brian has assigned. Mine are: elusive, bawdy and trampoline. For whatever it’s worth, here’s the result (and yup, I’m still thinking about the personal implications of that word assignment … 😉 ) And do be sure to visit Brian’s site – https://brianlageose.blog. You will be happy you did. 🙂
Jack kept squirming in his seat. For some reason, he was uncomfortable. He vaguely felt as if he might throw up, which was really odd, because his girlfriend had just made his favourite pasta for supper, carbonara. He loved carbonara and always enjoyed it.
He considered the situation.
Suddenly his stomach gurgled and then he really did feel close to yakking, but somehow he also didn’t feel ill sick. It was more like … like … what was it? Guilt sick?
Why would I feel guilty, he asked himself.
Jack examined the last few days for any signs of a moral hangover but couldn’t think of anything.
“Is everything okay?” his girlfriend asked. She sounded a bit alarmed. “Have I done something to upset you?”
He stopped the ferocious gnawing he was administering to his fingernail and regarded her. He realised that he had been chewing and vacantly staring. “Oh no. Everything’s fine. I just am suddenly not feeling very well. My stomach is bothering me. That’s all.”
It occurred to him that he wanted to keep this one. She was always so pliant and concerned about pleasing him.
“Okay. Is there anything I can do for you? Get you an antacid? Carbonara is pretty rich.”
“Not really. I think I just have to ride this out. Sometimes my stomach bothers me and I don’t really know why.”
Suddenly, Jack leaped up and sprang for the bathroom, slamming and locking the door behind him. He just made it to the toilet before bringing up the morning’s toast and everything else but his shoelaces. He heaved until he was empty and then draped himself over the edge of the toilet. He was exhausted and sweating.
Finally, he leaned back against the bathtub and hoped that he was finished.
Ten seconds later, a wave of nausea wracked him again, and he scrambled desperately for the toilet.
If he could just remember why he felt so guilty, he could stop feeling so sick. He thought he had a piece of it, but it slithered elusively into his mind’s attic.
If only this heaving would stop, I’d be able to think clearly and then … and then I would have the answer and then I wouldn’t be sick, he thought.
Thoughts bounced around in his head like they were springing from a trampoline.
What did I do?
What was it???
A dress. A green dress.
Emerald green. Yes. That’s it.
But what about it? Why did I think of it?
You know why, said the mouse.
It peeked at him from around the edge of the toilet bowl brush, its delicate white whiskers trembling knowingly, its wise gaze unflinching and unruffled.
Did that mouse just talk to me, Jack asked the room.
Yes, said the mouse, I did. Don’t you remember me? We talked a lot about that green dress. Or more specifically, about that bawdy relic who was inhabiting it. She was way too old for you. And way too forward. And besides, finding women in bars was never really your thing. Don’t you remember?
Ohhh yeah, Jack said. Yeah. I remember now.
Just then his girlfriend rapped on the bathroom door.
“Are you all right in there? Is there anything I can do?”
She rattled the door handle.
Jesus Christ, thought Jack. Can’t she leave me in peace when I’m sick in the bathroom? Just leave me the fuck alone, he raged silently.
“Jack?? Are you okay? Are you able to answer me?”
He heard her fiddling with the handle, trying to get the door open.
Fuck this, Jack thought as he started furiously ripping up floorboards.
He forgot about the mouse.
He forgot about the green dress.
He forgot about everything.
As the floorboards came up faster and faster, a heavy, clear plastic glinted at the edge of the light.
It covered something green.
Jack awoke to the sound of a sports recap show. He was stretched out in his recliner but felt uncomfortable and cold and his neck hurt. He was ravenously hungry.
He rummaged in the fridge and found some leftover pasta from dinner.
He vaguely remembered having had a fight with the maker of the dinner and he somehow thought she had left, but just then he was too hungry to think about it.
He finished his plate and began to shuffle off to bed, the notion that he was forgetting something twitching at the edge of his memory.
He felt so tired!
But tomorrow is another day, he thought. I’ll think about it then.